"Request for info on ethnic origin"

About: Southwark PCT / Emergency GP out of hours service

(as the patient),

Last night my son had a bad bout of asthma, and at 0330 I decided I would have to call SELDOC - South East London Doctors On Call Cooperative - who provide our out of hours service. I have had to call SELDOC several times over the last few years, and always been pretty happy with the service they provide - even impressed at times. When you call, you speak first to a call centre operator, who takes your details and the nature of the problem. They then get an on-call GP to phone you back to discuss the issue, and to agree whether you need to come into the SELDOC centre to see a doctor in person.

This time, when I called, after giving the call-centre operator the date of birth, address, and GP details of my son (the patient), I was horrified to be asked about his ethnic origin.

I fully understand that collection of data on ethnicity is important for data crunchers somewhere in Southwark PCT or wider NHS, and is sought for benign purposes. But it felt totally and utterly inappropriate to be asked to provide this as key information to enable me to access the advice of an out of hours emergency doctor. A patient should NEVER feel like their racial or ethnic origin has any bearing whatsoever on their ability to get the services they need from the NHS.

It didn't feel as though anyone had considered how this question might feel or be interpreted by the patient on the receiving end.

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